“Like a lamp spreading throughout the world”: Audience with ‘Friends of the Kagyu Monlam’
January 12, 2014
Tergar Shrine Room, Bodhgaya
As the second day of the Kagyu Monlam entered its afternoon session, nearly 1100 ‘Friends of the Kagyu Monlam’ gathered at the Tergar Shrine room for a special group audience with the Gyalwang Karmapa. Arriving early to pass through the security checks, the long queue wound its way around the entire gompa and well out into the street as the members patiently waited.
Each year, individuals have the option to become Friends of the Kagyu Monlam through a fixed donation amount. This is a key method of supporting the Monlam, and offers a range of benefits for members, such as designated seating throughout, meals provided at the Mahayana Hotel, and a special group audience with the Gyalwang Karmapa.
“You play an important part in the existence and flourishing of the Kagyu Monlam,” the Gyalwang Karmapa told the gathered members, with his words being translated into both English and Chinese.
He then described his vision for the role of the Kagyu Monlam, to spread peace and happiness in the world.
“The most important aspiration of the Kagyu Monlam is that it doesn’t only happen in Bodhgaya,” he said, “but that from one lamp being lighted to another, the radiance of the Kagyu Monlam will spread continuously throughout the world. From one country to another, like galaxies of stars – I aspire that we invoke the radiance of the lamp of the Kagyu Monlam all over the world, and contribute to the peace and wellbeing of the world.”
“The Kagyu Monlam started in a very small way and then by the power of all the conditions coming together, quite organically began to expand,” he continued. “And now the Kagyu Monlam has become a global dharma activity happening internationally. This is through the power of those with confidence or faith joining the Monlam, and you are among those.”
Being a member of the Kagyu Monlam is like being a member of a loving family, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued.
“We’re simply a big family, and we’re members of that family. It can be a family of warmth, a mandala of loving-kindness and compassion. We have the privilege to be a member of this big family of loving care, and it is important that we don’t forget that this is the very essence of being a member of the Kagyu Monlam family.”
Each person then received a set of truly special gifts from the Gyalwang Karmapa, including one of his personal calligraphies—a stunning golden ‘Hung’ seed-syllable set against an auspicious red backdrop, which he explained could be hung on the door for good luck during the upcoming Chinese New Year; an exquisite golden pendant depicting a many-armed Chenrezig deity bordered in diamonds; another small pendant, adorned with his own image, to be worn around the neck; as well as blessing cords and a vibrant colour picture with his image on one side and a long-life prayer for him on the other side.
As the group slowly started to move forward to receive their gifts, the spontaneous chant of ‘Karmapa Chenno’ began, spreading quickly until all voices were united. The slow chanting continued for half an hour as the queue inched forward, finally subsiding to a whisper, and leaving a tangible poignancy in the room. Many among the crowd were moved to tears as, one by one, members of the Kagyu Monlam family received the Gyalwang Karmapa’s personal blessing.